THERE is no denying that 2017 was a pretty good year to be a Ford fan.
The Supercars Drivers’ Championship may have proved elusive, but 16 race wins, 20 pole positions, the Teams’ Championship, the Manufacturers’ Championship and the Pirtek Enduro Cup meant there were plenty of reasons for the Blue Oval brigade to cheer.
But the 2017 season also saw Ford notch up four major ATCC/V8/Supercars milestones that went under the radar.
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FORD’S 350TH CHAMPIONSHIP RACE WIN
Race 25 — Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske
McLaughlin’s triumph in the penultimate race of 2017 was crucial for he and his team. Not only did it give him the championship lead heading into the final race, the 1-2 finish with Fabian Coulthard also clinched the Teams’ Championship.
In one of fate’s little quirks, had McLaughlin been able to sew up the title with a win in the finale, or had any other Falcon driver crossed the line first, it would’ve been the marque’s 351st race win — the displacement of Ford’s iconic Cleveland V8 that powered every Falcon win until the end of Group C in 1984.
It also would’ve been Ford’s 17th win of 2017, the lion’s (or should that be bird’s?) share earnt by car No. 17.
As it was, Ford victory No. 351 will have to wait until sometime in the 2018 season.
FALCON’S 300TH CHAMPIONSHIP RACE WIN
Race 19 — Cam Waters/Richie Stanaway, Prodrive Racing Australia
It’s fitting that the Falcon’s milestone win should come at the hands of the former factory Ford team, and at a track that is effectively the home race for the Broadmeadow brand.
The win was the Falcon nameplate’s 38th victory across championship races at Sandown and its 13th in Sandown enduros alone, while it was also the maiden Supercars victory for both Waters and Stanaway.
Also apt is that the Sandown 500 was the first victory the team scored in its original incarnation as Glenn Seton Racing, Seton and George Fury pairing to win the 1990 event on their way to winning that year’s three-round Endurance Championship.
Last year’s was the team’s third Sandown 500 win in its FPR/PRA guise, and fifth victory factoring in the GSR years.
FALCON’S 200TH CHAMPIONSHIP RACE POLE POSITION
Race 12 — Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske
The Falcon’s seventh pole position of the 2017 season was a momentous one, McLaughlin’s Top 10 Shootout victory kicking off a streak of eight consecutive pole positions.
The Hidden Valley pole was the 24th of his Supercars career, a tally that would move to 33 by the time the year was out by dint of his new series record 16 poles in one season.
All up, McLaughlin earnt a cool $30,000 from Armor All for his one-lap efforts last year, including $5k for his two minutes and three seconds of work around Mount Panorama in the Bathurst 1000 Top 10 Shootout.
The blue oval’s run of poles in 2017 — more of which in a moment — brings the marque to 271 overall, 29 shy of the magic 300 mark, and 54 behind chief rivals Holden.
10 CONSECUTIVE POLES FOR FIRST TIME IN SUPERCARS ERA
Races 12-21 inclusive
Ford claimed 20 pole positions in a season for the first time since Supercars began holding a qualifying session for each race in 2009, and half of them came in a streak between Race 12 in Darwin and Race 21 on the Gold Coast.
Unsurprisingly, eight of the poles came from McLaughlin, including both his streak of seven from Hidden Valley to Sydney Motorsport Park plus his stunning record pole lap at Mount Panorama. Waters and Stanaway’s pole at the Sandown 500 and Chaz Mostert and Steve Owen’s pole on the Saturday at Surfers Paradise brought the tally to an even 10.
A single manufacturer posting a double-figure streak of pole positions has happened just eight times in championship history, and it’s only the third time Ford has put together such a run.
The first was when Allan Moffat single-handedly recorded 10 straight pole positions from the 1971 Lakeside round to the 1972 Surfers Paradise round, all in his trusty Coca-Cola Mustang.
The second occurred when the Sierra RS500 Cosworth annihilated the opposition in the Group A era, sweeping all pole positions in 1988 and 1989, plus the first three of 1990 to give it a run of 20 consecutive pole positions — the all-time record.